Would be thankful for guidance.

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EarnestP
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Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby EarnestP » Sat Nov 07, 2015 9:52 am

What brings you to Liberation Unleashed?:
I heard Ilona and Elena's interview with Rick Archer on batgap.com 3 years ago, and became interested in seeing that there is no self. Since then I have been looking into this for short periods, then leaving it aside, and taking it up again a few weeks later. I've also read through Gateless Gatecrashers. My "looking" seems to have reached a point where I can't see a self when I look, but I also can't see clearly that there is no self, if that makes sense. There isn’t a sense of having seen it in a way that it can’t be unseen. I feel that some guidance here might be very beneficial.

What do you expect of the conversation on this forum?:
I would like to see unequivocally, in a "no Santa Claus" way, that there is no personal self in charge of my life. I can't say that I fully expect this outcome, as there is a part of me that is sceptical that this could actually be seen; but I'm I've been fairly earnest in my looking, albeit in shortish bursts, over the past couple of years or so. As time goes on, the desire to see seems to have intensified; so I feel that with some guidance it may actually be possible for me to see through the illusion of a self.

What is your background in terms of seeking and inquiry?:
I've been involved with Waking Down in Mutuality since 2006, and I went through a fundamental shift in my experience of being shortly after getting involved. Although I can't overestimate how important this shift has been for me, I still somehow have not grokked the illusory nature of a personal self.

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JonathanR
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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby JonathanR » Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:28 pm

Hi Ernest,

Welcome to Liberation Unleashed. My name is Jon and I would be happy guide you, if you like?

You said:
. My "looking" seems to have reached a point where I can't see a self when I look, but I also can't see clearly that there is no self, if that makes sense.
This is an interesting statement. The first part, of not seeing a 'self' when looking, rings very true. But what is this expectation that an (illusory) 'I' should clearly see that there is no self?

Look at the actual experience. Is it ever experienced that a 'me' or 'I' is doing the noticing of 'no self'?

Put another way, when no self can be found, what notices this?

Warm regards,

Jon

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EarnestP
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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby EarnestP » Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:05 am

Hi Jon,

Thank you for offering to guide me. I appreciate it!
Is it ever experienced that a 'me' or 'I' is doing the noticing of 'no self'?
When a lack of self is noticed, it is just being seen. There is no "I" seeing it in the moment it is seen.

However, when the matter is not being investigated, the assumption of an "I" is the default mode.

Kind regards

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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby JonathanR » Sun Nov 08, 2015 3:33 pm

Hi Earnest,

Before we continue, could you read and agree to the following 'ground-rules' and disclaimer, please?:

If you haven't already seen it, there is introductory info here, the disclaimer and a short video too.
http://www.liberationunleashed.com/

1. Post at least once a day, if you cannot post, or need more time, let me know. I will try to do likewise.
2. Be 100% honest in your answers and inquiry.
3. Answer only from direct experience (felt senses and observed thoughts). Longwinded
analytical and philosophical answers are best avoided and may even hinder progress.
4. Put aside all other teachings, philosophies and such for the remainder of this investigation.
Really put all your effort and attention in to seeing this reality, as it is. If you have a daily and
essential meditation practice, it is fine to continue that.
5. Understand that I will be guiding you, rather than teaching you, and the more you put into this process the more you will get out of it.

Thank you.
When a lack of self is noticed, it is just being seen. There is no "I" seeing it in the moment it is seen.
This is a great start.
However, when the matter is not being investigated, the assumption of an "I" is the default mode.
I understand. This is a very common assumption.

What is an assumption? Is it a habitual way of thinking, would you say?

When there is the assumption of an 'I', what is it that is doing the assuming?

Is it possible to prevent a thought from appearing? If I say 'elephant', is it possible to prevent the thought of elephant from appearing?

IMPORTANT. Is it possible to prevent thoughts from appearing including the thought 'I'?


Kind regards,

Jon

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EarnestP
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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby EarnestP » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:00 am

Hi Jon,

I’m good with those guidelines, though I’ve pm-ed you with one concern. I’ll try to post every day, and if I can’t I’ll endeavour at least to check in here. (I’m a night-owl, so I may tend to post during the small hours...)
What is an assumption? Is it a habitual way of thinking, would you say?
Yes, I agree that an assumption can be a habitual way of thinking, involving thoughts that get in under the radar of attention. Regarding the assumption of an “I”, I find the assumption very often showing up as thoughts about a story around an “I”, rather than any noticeable “I thought”. For example, looking at a book on my kitchen table, I remember something that happened at work last week. Or I think of something I need to do next week. And these thoughts which include an assumption of “I” (“my” past, “my” future, “my” life) seem to do a lot of the work of keeping the “I” assumption in place.
When there is the assumption of an 'I', what is it that is doing the assuming?
Correct answer: the assumption is just happening, without any assumer. Haha! I know that is the LU textbook answer, and when I look into it, the “assuming” seems to be taking place of its own accord. However, I need to feel into this more, as there is also a recurring thought/general conviction that I should be doing something to weaken the grip of this assumption.
Is it possible to prevent a thought from appearing? If I say 'elephant', is it possible to prevent the thought of elephant from appearing?
When I look at thoughts appearing, they just seem to appear of their own accord. So in that sense, I don’t make them come, and I don’t see how I can prevent them from coming either.
There is lack of clarity on this when operating from the “I” assumption, though, and then it feels as if I can focus more on certain thoughts and focus less on others.
IMPORTANT. Is it possible to prevent thoughts from appearing including the thought 'I'?
When I read this I felt an immediate sense of relief: I hadn't realised there was an assumption that “I” should/could be doing more to dismantle the “I” assumption! I’m finding it hard to see into, though. There’s a bit of brain fog when investigating this. I’ll continue with it.

Something I found helpful earlier today before I read your post was trying to find the location of “I”, which I imagine as being located in my head and upper torso mostly. It was quite weird in that I couldn’t find an “I” in there, but somehow couldn’t get clarity on there being no “I” there. It was weird and a bit maddening, as if my brain had gone cross-eyed: not finding an I, and yet unable to disabuse myself of the conviction that there was an “I” in there somewhere. At one point I found myself conflating the sensation of aliveness in my arms with the thought “I”. This feels like a good area to continue looking into…

Thanks, Jon, and kind regards,
Earnest

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JonathanR
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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby JonathanR » Mon Nov 09, 2015 6:40 pm

Hi Earnest
there is also a recurring thought/general conviction that I should be doing something to weaken the grip of this assumption.
This recurring thought. Is there an entity, 'you' or 'self' that can be seen creating this recurring thought?

Is there an 'I' or 'me' that can prevent this recurring thought from appearing?
. And these thoughts which include an assumption of “I” (“my” past, “my” future, “my” life) seem to do a lot of the work of keeping the “I” assumption in place.

Are these thoughts that 'you' think? Do 'you' think thoughts or do thoughts think 'you'?
JonathanR wrote:
IMPORTANT. Is it possible to prevent thoughts from appearing including the thought 'I'?


When I read this I felt an immediate sense of relief: I hadn't realised there was an assumption that “I” should/could be doing more to dismantle the “I” assumption!
Good.

If there is no preventing of thoughts, could it be that there is no 'self' that could prevent them from appearing?

There is no doubt that thoughts do appear and are experienced as appearing (when they do) but what about the content of thoughts, what thoughts are ABOUT?

Jon

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EarnestP
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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby EarnestP » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:40 am

Hi Jon,
This recurring thought. Is there an entity, 'you' or 'self' that can be seen creating this recurring thought?

Is there an 'I' or 'me' that can prevent this recurring thought from appearing?
No, the recurring thought appears on its own. And while being looked into, there doesn’t seem to be an “I” present as these these thoughts appear.
Are these thoughts that 'you' think? Do 'you' think thoughts or do thoughts think 'you'?
These thoughts appear. “I” am not creating them. “Do thoughts ‘think you’?” That’s an interesting question. I’d like to look into it more. I can see that many thoughts maintain a story about “me”. I have more difficulty seeing clearly that there is an actual standalone “I” thought. When I look, it always seems to be accompanied by some image (e.g. imagining myself in some situation) or as part of a thought (e.g. “I must try to get to bed earlier.”) There also seems to be a background sense of “I”, akin to a sort of hum – but I’m not clear that it’s an actual thought. It somehow seems continuous. When I look, I can’t find an “I”, and this “hum” appears to be thought-like in nature (i.e. it recedes when I look at what is present); but when I’m not looking directly, it seems to resume the “background hum” quality.
If there is no preventing of thoughts, could it be that there is no 'self' that could prevent them from appearing?
As I look into this, I'm not getting any clarity - things become opaque. I'll keep looking into it.
what about the content of thoughts, what thoughts are ABOUT?
I’m not sure I understand this question. Some thoughts are clearly about things in the real world (e.g. “My car is being repaired”). Others do not refer to real things, events etc.

Thank you and kind regards,
Patrick

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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby JonathanR » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:23 pm

Hi Earnest,
These thoughts appear. “I” am not creating them. “Do thoughts ‘think you’?” That’s an interesting question. I’d like to look into it more. I can see that many thoughts maintain a story about “me”.
Yes. Do take a look at this. When looked for, can a self be found anywhere in experience? Can a self be found in the body? Can one be found elsewhere?

Nevertheless there is still an appearance of a self, something imagined or assumed that seems to be 'there'. This is where it is worth looking at how thoughts frequently refer to 'me' or 'I'. Perhaps thoughts alone or thoughts combined with an element of feeling keep this impression going?

We can pick up an apple, can't we? It is real and has weight and colour and scent and texture. But it is possible to think of an apple, to see a picture of an apple in thought. And it is possible to imagine picking that apple up. Nevertheless, is the thought-apple ever more than a thought about an apple? Does it cause a real apple to 'exist'?

Do thoughts ABOUT 'me' or 'I' cause a real self to exist? Could a self be located and picked up?
There also seems to be a background sense of “I”, akin to a sort of hum – but I’m not clear that it’s an actual thought. It somehow seems continuous.
That's interesting. look at this to see if 'I' can be located here.

You have also mentioned the body, the head and upper torso as a place that seems o be identified with a sense of 'self'. Look at this and see if it is possible to find out exactly where 'I' is located.


Regards,
Jon

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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby EarnestP » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:38 am

Hi Jon,

I spent quite a bit of time earlier today (Tues) investigating, sometimes lying down with eyes closed, sometimes during activities. I strained my brain a bit lol, and now am a bit foggy.
When looked for, can a self be found anywhere in experience? Can a self be found in the body? Can one be found elsewhere?
When looking, I could not find a self. However, a vague thought/felt sense of self seemed to linger on the periphery of awareness even when I could not see a self directly, and this vague thought made it impossible for me to see that there was no self. But I could not see a self directly.
Nevertheless there is still an appearance of a self, something imagined or assumed that seems to be 'there'. This is where it is worth looking at how thoughts frequently refer to 'me' or 'I'. Perhaps thoughts alone or thoughts combined with an element of feeling keep this impression going?
Yes, that is what I was finding. And I was surprised to notice, especially during activity, how many thoughts include the assumption of an “I”. When lying down, I found it easier to look at the continuous “I” thought/sense, and concluded that it must be a sort of thought too. Not quite like other thoughts, which have a beginning and an end; but still, when I look at what is present, the “I” thought recedes. I can see how, between “normal” thoughts and the “I” thought, a sense of self can be held in place.
Do thoughts ABOUT 'me' or 'I' cause a real self to exist? Could a self be located and picked up?
No. Thoughts about a self cannot make a self exist. But even though when I look for a self I can't find one, still the vague sense of self (thought/feeling) hangs around in the background. It’s very sticky.
You have also mentioned the body, the head and upper torso as a place that seems o be identified with a sense of 'self'. Look at this and see if it is possible to find out exactly where 'I' is located.
Yes, I spent some time doing this. There is a sense of being located in the body, especially head/torso area, even though I can’t find an “I” there when I look! I know that sounds contradictory, and I find it confusing. There is some sort of identification, or feeling particularly at home, in the body.

Off to bed now!

Thanks Jon,
Patrick

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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby JonathanR » Wed Nov 11, 2015 10:59 am

Hi Earnest,
When looking, I could not find a self. However, a vague thought/felt sense of self seemed to linger on the periphery of awareness even when I could not see a self directly, and this vague thought made it impossible for me to see that there was no self. But I could not see a self directly.
`
There can be an expectation that any and all thoughts refering to ‘I’ or ‘me’ should disappear or be made to disappear but what is important is not a battle to get rid of thoughts but to see through the content of thoughts, ...what thoughts ‘say’. Thoughts often tend to relate to 'I' or 'me' (Santa), but does this mean Santa 'exists' as an actual being? When we are kids we are told and we believe unswervingly that Santa is real and he comes down the chimney with presents. Santa exists in a story about Santa but can he be found in actual experience?
Yes, that is what I was finding. And I was surprised to notice, especially during activity, how many thoughts include the assumption of an “I”. When lying down, I found it easier to look at the continuous “I” thought/sense, and concluded that it must be a sort of thought too. Not quite like other thoughts, which have a beginning and an end; but still, when I look at what is present, the “I” thought recedes. I can see how, between “normal” thoughts and the “I” thought, a sense of self can be held in place.
It’s good to notice this. There are thoughts and stories about a ‘me’ but look for the entity that is supposed to be ‘there’. Is there one to be found?
]No. Thoughts about a self cannot make a self exist. But even though when I look for a self I can't find one, still the vague sense of self (thought/feeling) hangs around in the background. It’s very sticky.
It can seem so. Actually, is there anything ‘there’ to which something can ‘stick’? Look for this.
Yes, I spent some time doing this. There is a sense of being located in the body, especially head/torso area, even though I can’t find an “I” there when I look! I know that sounds contradictory, and I find it confusing. There is some sort of identification, or feeling particularly at home, in the body.
Ok. This is very common and it can be explored. So far we have talked a bit about thoughts but 'self' is often identified with body. So let’s turn attention to this right now.

Take seeing, for example.
Conventionally we tend to say 'I see' and it may (or may not) be assumed that it is 'me' that is the body that is doing the seeing.

So - Right now examine your experience.
The words on the screen are being seen. What are they being seen by?
From thought, we have the idea that 'I see the screen'.
So what is 'I'? What can be found right here and now in your experience that is 'seeing the screen'.

Can anything be found? There is the thought 'I see', but is there actually an 'I' to be found that does the seeing?
If so, what is that?
Do you experience a body seeing? Or would you say that there is just 'seeing'? Just the experience alone?


Jon :-)

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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby EarnestP » Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:57 pm

Hi Jon,

Sorry I’m a little late with my reply – sometimes my “day” is longer than 24 hours!
There can be an expectation that any and all thoughts refering to ‘I’ or ‘me’ should disappear or be made to disappear but what is important is not a battle to get rid of thoughts but to see through the content of thoughts, ...what thoughts ‘say’.
That makes sense to me.
There are thoughts and stories about a ‘me’ but look for the entity that is supposed to be ‘there’. Is there one to be found?
No, a self hasn't been found yet!
t can seem so. Actually, is there anything ‘there’ to which something can ‘stick’? Look for this.
No, I can’t locate a place for a sense of self to stick to. However, although I can’t locate a self, a lack of clarity persists. It’s not clear that there is no self even though one hasn't been found.
So - Right now examine your experience.
The words on the screen are being seen. What are they being seen by?
From thought, we have the idea that 'I see the screen'.
So what is 'I'? What can be found right here and now in your experience that is 'seeing the screen'.

Can anything be found? There is the thought 'I see', but is there actually an 'I' to be found that does the seeing?
If so, what is that?
Do you experience a body seeing? Or would you say that there is just 'seeing'? Just the experience alone?
This is an interesting exercise. I can’t find an “I” that is seeing. However, there is some reluctance to say that seeing is simply happening. Seeing is happening, but it seems to be connected to the body. For example, when my head moves to the left, the content of seeing changes. The screen moves to the right. When I close my eyelids, the screen disappears. I’m a bit stuck here. With hearing, I don’t have this problem – it seems true to say hearing is just happening. Right now there is the sound of traffic, and I can say that hearing is simply happening. But with both seeing and hearing, I can’t find a self that is doing the seeing and hearing,

Thanks, Jon. I feel appreciation for your guidance.

Patrick

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JonathanR
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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby JonathanR » Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:07 pm

Hi Earnest,
It’s not clear that there is no self even though one hasn't been found.
OK. We need to continue to look for one then. But I am interested to know, if no self has been found so far, what will it take to be clear? Is there a special moment that you are waiting for?
I can’t find an “I” that is seeing. However, there is some reluctance to say that seeing is simply happening. Seeing is happening, but it seems to be connected to the body. For example, when my head moves to the left, the content of seeing changes.
Perhaps it's like thoughts? The content of thoughts shifts and changes a lot but that doesn't really alter the fact that thoughts just turn up, does it? Cover your eyes with your hands. There is sill seeing (of darkness), isn't there?
With hearing, I don’t have this problem – it seems true to say hearing is just happening. Right now there is the sound of traffic, and I can say that hearing is simply happening.
That's good. I have heard people say this before and speaking personally I found hearing to be the first of the senses that was noticed just happening. So, since this works for you we will stick with it for a while.

Notice that hearing is just happening. Is there the experience of 'ears' that 'do hearing', or is there simply hearing?

You will notice various sounds. Some will be quiet, such as breathing. Others may be louder or more distant.

Focus on a distant sound. Where does 'hearing' end and 'the sound' begin?

Where do 'you' end and 'sound' begin?



Jon :-)

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EarnestP
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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby EarnestP » Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:26 pm

Hi Jon,
I am interested to know, if no self has been found so far, what will it take to be clear? Is there a special moment that you are waiting for?
My expectation is that at some point there will be a shift in perspective (whether sudden or gradual), after which it will be fundamentally clear that there is no self at the core of “my” life.
Perhaps it's like thoughts? The content of thoughts shifts and changes a lot but that doesn't really alter the fact that thoughts just turn up, does it? Cover your eyes with your hands. There is sill seeing (of darkness), isn't there?
That’s a very helpful way of looking at seeing. I tried the seeing exercise again with this in mind, and it was clear (though not stably so) that seeing was just happening.
Notice that hearing is just happening. Is there the experience of 'ears' that 'do hearing', or is there simply hearing?
In direct experience, there is simply hearing. Sometimes it seems that ears are doing the hearing, but by looking more closely I can see that a thought/image of something like a sound entering through my ears is being superimposed on the simple experience of hearing.
Focus on a distant sound. Where does 'hearing' end and 'the sound' begin?
The sound and the hearing of it are the same thing, just one experience described in two different ways.
Where do 'you' end and 'sound' begin?
Just the sound. No ears or self hearing the sound!

Earlier today, after doing the hearing exercise, I spontaneously went into an investigation of inside/outside. I used distant sounds as representing something outside, and body sensations as representing something inside. I looked at the sounds to see if there was anything about them that could be identified as “outside” and found there was nothing. They were simply sounds appearing. With body sensations, I looked for something that might identify them as being inside, but could only find the sensations themselves. This has helped quite a bit, and has dealt a blow to the assumption that there is a self inside the body!

Thanks, Jon. I’m very appreciative of your guidance. I really feel as if the process of clarifying things has intensified, and progress is being made. There is also some scepticism, but I imagine this is natural until clarity is reached.

Kind regards,
Earnest

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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby JonathanR » Sat Nov 14, 2015 12:30 am

Hi Earnest,
My expectation is that at some point there will be a shift in perspective (whether sudden or gradual), after which it will be fundamentally clear that there is no self at the core of “my” life.
That is fair. That is what we are aiming for. It can be very subtle, or very obvious. either way i'ts possible to miss it entirely by waiting for fireworks to happen.
In direct experience, there is simply hearing. Sometimes it seems that ears are doing the hearing, but by looking more closely I can see that a thought/image of something like a sound entering through my ears is being superimposed on the simple experience of hearing.
Now this is interesting. On the one hand there is the direct experience of simply hearing and then there is the noticing of a thought that is overlaid onto the experience. You express the activity of the thought very well indeed, as it appears and seems to get between the raw sensation and the experience of it.

From this is it clear that the thought/image is NOT the direct sensation but something like a commentary, an interpretation, added on to the hearing experience?

Is it clear that such thoughts are never the actual sense experience but always some kind of narrative or explanation about experience?
The sound and the hearing of it are the same thing, just one experience described in two different ways.
Earlier today, after doing the hearing exercise, I spontaneously went into an investigation of inside/outside. I used distant sounds as representing something outside, and body sensations as representing something inside. I looked at the sounds to see if there was anything about them that could be identified as “outside” and found there was nothing. They were simply sounds appearing. With body sensations, I looked for something that might identify them as being inside, but could only find the sensations themselves. This has helped quite a bit, and has dealt a blow to the assumption that there is a self inside the body!
Excellent!
Thanks, Jon. I’m very appreciative of your guidance.
My pleasure :-)

The hearing exercise can be adapted to each of the senses. Seeing was tricky but let's return to it and try this:

Find a cup or mug of one colour, such as white or red and place it on a table in front of you. Now simply rest your eyes on this cup and notice the colour.

Right now the colour is seen. But like sound and the hearing of sound, is there any separation betwen colour and the seeing of it?

If colour is seen, how is it 'separate' from 'me' if it is experienced directly?

The same sort of thing can be tried with feeling (touch), smell and taste.


Jon :-)

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EarnestP
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Re: Would be thankful for guidance.

Postby EarnestP » Sun Nov 15, 2015 12:39 am

Hi Jon,
Is it clear that such thoughts are never the actual sense experience but always some kind of narrative or explanation about experience?
It was clear when I did that particular hearing exercise, but I can’t say it’s clear all the time. For example, listening to the sound of traffic passing outside my apartment today, I found it difficult to “uncouple” the simple experience of hearing the sounds from the thought/image of cars going by. I tried again just now, and there’s more clarity. The sound is happening, and sometimes there’s an image/thought of a moving car attached, but I seem to be able to distinguish between the sound and the thought. I need to practice this some more!
Find a cup or mug of one colour, such as white or red and place it on a table in front of you. Now simply rest your eyes on this cup and notice the colour.
Right now the colour is seen. But like sound and the hearing of sound, is there any separation betwen colour and the seeing of it?
I tried this last night. I couldn’t find any separation between the coloured surface and the seeing.
If colour is seen, how is it 'separate' from 'me' if it is experienced directly?
I’m not sure what you mean by “me” in quotes here. As during the hearing exercise, when looking at the white surface and noticing there was no separation between the surface and the seeing of it, I couldn’t locate any "me" doing the seeing at that moment. There was just the colour/the seeing of it. I hope this is an answer to the question.
The same sort of thing can be tried with feeling (touch), smell and taste.
I’ll try with one or more of these senses tonight/tomorrow. :)

One thing I’ve been noticing over these days is that clarity gained in a particular exercise often proves to be unstable. I can be clear regarding something at one moment, and have less clarity about the same thing a few hours later, or the next day. I imagine this may be entirely natural, but thought I’d better mention it to you.

Also, I thought I’d mention to you that I often find myself doing a sort of spontaneous investigation when lying down. I just go where it takes me, and often don’t remember the details afterwards! For example, earlier today I felt confusion, and very unclear and a little discouraged about my progress. I went into quite an intense (though fairly relaxed) investigation, and after a couple of hours I saw that there is no “I” acting independently. The insight gained, though, seems to have moved into the background now and, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I won’t be surprised if it has disappeared by tomorrow!

Apologies for posting this so late in the day...

Thanks,
Patrick


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